Many NFL backfields no longer feature a single back, instead utilizing a committee in an effort to keep guys fresh. Generally, you still have a premier back, a clear-cut top option. In Carolina, that’s simply not the case.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart would probably be first round selections, if they weren’t on the same team. Instead, they are currently going in the second or third rounds (Williams’ ADP is 13.45 and Stewart’s is 30.24, according to Mock Draft Central).
No other team has two backs that owner’s value so highly. The Cowboys are the only other team with two running backs with ADP’s in the Top 65 (Felix Jones is 41.77 and Marion Barber is 63.78), but both are being selected after the Panthers’ pair.
The question for fantasy owners, however, isn’t which of the dynamic duo should be drafted first. What we need to determine is which will produce the bigger season and therefore have better value.
Let’s take a look at what each brings to the table:
2009 Statistics – 216 carries, 1,117 yards, 7 TD
The touchdowns were down significantly, as he is just a year removed from an 18 TD season. While I wouldn’t expect him to come close to that type of number in 2010, it is easy to imagine him returning to double-digit TDs.
He had seven carries of at least 20 yards in ’09, also down significantly from his magical 2008 campaign. That year he broke 15 runs of 20+ yards, second most in the league.
While he did miss some time in 2009 due to an injury (he played in 13 games and had just 6 carries in another), that is not the only explanation for his dropoff. He simply was not as effective, which is hard to imagine saying of someone who averaged 5.2 yards per carry (down from 5.5 in ’08).
He does add in the passing game, with 29 receptions for 252 yards last season. That certainly helps add some value to his game.
2009 Statistics – 221 carries, 1,133 yards, 10 TD
He has had 10 TD in each of his first two seasons. Can you imagine what he could do if he were to ever become the lead back in the offense? Still, that type of consistency makes it hard to imagine him not approaching that plateau once again.
Just to give you an idea, in December when Williams was struggling with injuries and missing time, Stewart ran for 464 yards and three TD in four games. Included in that was a 206 yard thrashing of the Giants, as well as a pair of other 100 yard efforts. Just throw in his 125 yard, 1 TD performance on January 3, and you see how great he was down the stretch.
Amazingly, he’s done all this with a foot injury that has plagued him over his first two seasons. He finally had surgery to correct the problem this offseason and is said to be 100% healthy. Considering what he’s already done, that’s pretty scary.
His 11 carries of 20+ yards was good for a tie for third. I would expect him, now healthy, to also see more carries in the early going, making it more of a 50/50 split right from the beginning, especially with the late season performance he posted.
I’d love to own either of these backs, as both will likely exceed 1,000 yards and approach 10 TD once again. The thing is, considering their stats will likely be similar, I’d much rather pass on Williams in the early second round and instead look to Stewart in the late third.
Now healthy, Stewart could easily equal, if not outproduce Williams, making him the better value on draft day.
What are your thoughts? Who would you rather own and why?
Make sure to check out our 2010 rankings:
Also, make sure to check out our recent rookie rankings: